Nearly three in ten (29%) internet pharmacy users said they had received an MUR in the last 12 months, compared to one in ten (11%) of the store-only consumers surveyed.
Sempora Consulting, which polled a total of 1,001 pharmacy users across the UK, suggested that online purchasing has increased “substantially” for both prescription and non-prescription medicines since the previous 2014 survey, with each category experiencing growth of more than 10% per year.
Sempora Consulting director Francis Prosser told C+D today (September 1) that these figures, combined with the MUR figures, suggest that online patients are becoming “more active users” – not just of pharmacy products, but of all pharmacy services.
“Online shoppers are more likely to be actively buying multiple health-related products,” he said.
Based on the assumption that MURs are an indication of medicine consumption, the fact that online users are more likely to seek medicines advice suggests these consumers are "more active users of pharmacies' products and services, including MURs", Mr Prosser added.
How to respond to online competitors
As an MUR requires people to physically visit a pharmacy, Mr Prosser said an effective advice service is a good way for traditional bricks-and-mortar pharmacies to respond to the growth of online competitors.
“For [community pharmacy], the challenge is to make sure their products are available in all channels in a way that reaches out to consumers," Mr Prosser added.
“Could this be a prompt for some sort of ‘virtual use review’ for those online-only patients?” he asked.